The Tuesday Count: Seasoned judges, gambling - the subjects of two newly certified measures
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Edited by Bailey Ludlam
The 2011 and 2012 totals mirrored each other this week, as each were nudged up by one thanks to Ohio and Rhode Island. Although both measures are legislative referrals, they bring different topics to the table.
Starting with 2011's addition, Ohio lawmakers decided to send a measure to voters to raise the age of those occupying judicial offices from 70 to 76 years of age. On June 28, the Ohio State Senate voted unanimously, 32 to 0, in favor of the measure. The chamber also altered the proposal by changing the maximum age for a state judge to 76. It had originally been 75. After voting 69 to 27, the Ohio House of Representatives approved the change to the measure, sending it to the ballot for voters to decide.
For 2012, voters in Rhode Island will get a chance to decide if they want state-operated casino gambling at the Twin River venue. The proposal is part of the $7.7 billion budget signed into law on June 30. The ballot measure is part of Article 25 of the budget known as H 5894.
Originally proposed as a 2010 measure, it was passed as an attachment to the budget, by both chambers of the Rhode Island General Assembly. The budget was signed into effect by the governor on June 29.
The 2012 count now stands at 49 questions for 20 statewide ballots.
Meanwhile, in Texas, a special session that was called by Gov. Rick Perry came to a close. The special session commenced on May 31 and adjourned on June 29. During the special session, eight amendments were proposed for the 2011 ballot, but none passed. This solidifies Texas' total ballot measure count at 10. All are constitutional amendments.
State legislatures aren't the only ones making ballot measure news, as two petition drive deadlines are looming for the states of Ohio and Washington. Ohio's deadline is July 6, while Washington's is July 8, as signatures must be turned in that day in order for citizen-initiated ballot measures to be placed on the ballot.
|Proposals with recent activity|
Initiatives in Ohio include the much-publicized health care amendment, which calls for exempting residents from national health care mandates. Also included is the immigration amendment, which would authorize police to question a person's immigration status despite no suspicions that they are illegal immigrants.
In Washington, although an estimated 80 initiatives were filed in 2011, according to reports, only five campaigns may file signatures by the July deadline. Campaigns expected to file include: Initiatives 1132 - state transportation funds, 1130 - egg-laying hens, 1176 - long-term care and 1183 - liquor licensing.
Also, last week saw judicial developments out of at least two states. In Arkansas, a ruling was handed down by the state high court upholding to a 2010 interest rate limit amendment. Finally, in Michigan, a 2006 marijuana measure was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals.
SPOTLIGHT: Moroccans vote for constitutional reforms
On July 1, a referendum election on proposed constitutional changes was held in Morocco. Of the 13 million people eligible to vote, reports indicate that 9 million cast their ballots and approved the changes with 98 percent in favor.
The nearly unanimous vote mirrored protests held earlier this year. The reforms sought to curb the King's powers. Specifically, the changes include selecting the Prime Minister from the party who wins the most seats in Parliament. Additionally, the Prime Minister would replace the King as the head of government. Other changes include: giving Parliament more oversight of civil rights and national issues; giving women civic and social equality; and giving the native language of Berber official status in the country.
According to reports, many international bodies praised the reforms as a step in the right direction for democracy in the country. Others noted that the reforms were only superficial, leaving the King still in absolute control. Those opposed to the reforms had encouraged boycotting the referendum and many suspect that democratic protests will continue despite the vote. International organizations have now started to encourage that the King follow through with the changes and ensure that they are implemented.
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